Police Discretion with Young Offenders

IV. Organizational Factors Affecting Police Discretion

7.0 Support for community policing

7.0 Support for community policing

One major shift in the orientation of policing in Canada has been the shift from traditional to community policing. By the 1990's, virtually every police force in Canada had incorporated the term 'community policing' in their written mandates (Horne, 1992). This is not to say that every police department in Canada has necessarily adopted the entire philosophy behind community policing. This philosophy of policing entails an expanded role of the police within the community, and significant internal organizational change. There is considerable variation in practices across Canada (Hornick et al., 1996). The variations are not only a question of whether a few new programs were adopted but also one of confusion concerning the application and implementation of the concept of community policing (Horne, 1992; Leighton, 1991). In short, most departments understand what community policing is but there is little agreement as to how it should be executed (Hornick et al., 1996).

A shift from traditional to community policing involves a change in a department's orientation, emphasis, community relations, geographical organization, power base, and recruitment and training (Wood, 1996). Traditional policing adopts the crime control model as its primary orientation. Community policing incorporates a mixture of order maintenance and community service (Wood, 1996). The responsibility for community relations is on every officer, instead of the traditional approach of specialized units. The emphasis shifts from one of bureaucratic process to concrete results, and the power base shifts from complete police control to a shared power with the community. The jurisdictional organization (discussed in Section 2.0 above), moves from centralized to decentralized. Most importantly, recruitment and training must be geared towards human relations and problem solving instead of an exclusive focus on crime control (Wood, 1996). A problem-oriented policing style adopts methods such as SARA (Scanning Analysis Response Assessment) and CAPRA [80](Clients Analysis Partnerships Response Assessment) (Himelfarb, 1997; Hornick et al., 1996). In both cases, officers incorporate the actions of relevant actors (victims, offenders), consider the characteristics of the incident (social context, physical setting, and actions taken before, during, and after the events) as well as the responses and perceptions of citizens and private/public institutions as they apply to the problem (Bala et al., 1994). Thus, community policing has two major components: (i) community partnerships, and (ii) problem solving (Hornick et al, 1996). Canadian police leaders have strongly endorsed community policing as the most progressive approach (Leighton, 1991); however, the available literature does not identify which Canadian police agencies have made a complete transition to community policing.

In order to adopt a community policing approach, a police department must create its own community policing style, which reflects the needs of the citizens in the communities that it serves. Normandeau & Leighton (1990) have identified the following characteristics as essential for the success of any community policing effort:

  • The mission of police officers as peace officers
  • Community consultation
  • A proactive approach to policing
  • A problem-oriented strategy
  • Crime prevention activities
  • Interagency cooperation
  • Interactive policing
  • A reduction of the fear of victimization
  • Development of police officers as generalists
  • Decentralized police management
  • Development of flatter organizational structures and accountability to the community.

In short, adoption of the philosophy of community policing involves a radical change in all elements of organizational structure and process. Finding viable alternatives to formal processing involves focusing on the causes of the behaviour and using proactive problem solving which finds meaningful responses that are best tailored and balanced to the youth and his or her situation (Hornick et al, 1996). The employment of a multi-agency approach stresses the use of community-level resources, a sharing of knowledge and a pooling of resources and expertise in a cost-effective manner (ibid.). These elements are all facilitated by a complete adoption of community policing philosophy. Thus, the degree to which a police agency adopts community policing is likely to have a profound influence on its use of informal means to handle youth crime.

Since community policing focuses on the needs of a specific community, there is no blanket schematic approach. An approach that works in one jurisdiction may not be applicable in another. Police officers have indicated that they lack general knowledge of what works in given situations. In some jurisdictions, the police are very innovative in their approaches to handling youth crime; whereas, in others they appear overwhelmed with their workload, stating that the YOA inhibits their abilities to develop proactive crime prevention strategies.

A recent study found that police strongly favour community policing objectives and 97% felt that community-based alternatives to formal processing were a viable method to impart meaningful consequences (Caputo & Kelly, 1997). However, drawbacks included a lack of direction and meaning regarding the concept of community policing, variation in the informal nature between jurisdictions, availability, reluctance by administrators to reallocate resources away from traditional reactive policing functions, [81] and a lack of recognition by peers and superiors [82]for crime prevention initiatives such as school-based programming (ibid.). In short, police officers are asking for guidance on how and when to use police discretion within a community policing policy.

7.1 The philosophical dimension: mission statements and documented mandates and objectives

There are four dimensions of community policing: philosophical, strategic, tactical, and organizational (Cordner & Scarborough, 1997). The philosophical aspect involves incorporating community policing ideals (as discussed above) within the organization. The philosophical dimension is commonly found within a mission statement and/or a department's mandates and objectives. Just under one-half (46%) of the police agencies in our sample provided us with a copy of their mission statement, and one-third provided copies of their mandates and objectives. Agencies in metropolitan areas are much more likely to have a mission statement (70%) than those in suburban/exurban (42%) or rural/small town jurisdictions (34%). Documentation of mandates and objectives is less common: 47% of metropolitan police agencies were able to provide this type of documentation, as were 26% of suburban/exurban agencies and 26% of rural and small town agencies.

There are striking regional differences in the availability of documentation (Figure IV.19). Almost all of the police agencies in Ontario and over one-half in the Atlantic currently have mission statements, compared to much lower proportions elsewhere. The great majority of agencies in Ontario (70%) also have clearly stipulated mandates and objectives, compared to lower proportions in the other regions (0% - 27%) [83]. Virtually all of these documents contain the terminology "community policing". However, it is only in the other dimensions that the degree to which an agency has adopted community policing can be identified.

Figure IV.19 Regional distribution of adoption of the philosophical dimension of community policing

Figure IV.19 Regional distribution of adoption of the philosophical dimension of community policing - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

7.2 The strategic dimension: policies, protocols, and allocation of resources

The strategic dimension denotes incorporation of the ideals of community policing into policies and protocols, as well as - crucially - the allocation of adequate resources. There are several aspects that can be examined to assess the degree to which a police agency has adopted the strategic component of community policing. Figure IV.20 shows the percentage of police agencies that provided us with documentation concerning these various aspects.

Figure IV.20: Police services which provided documentation on the strategic dimension of community policing

Figure IV.20 Police services which provided documentation on the strategic dimension of community policing - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

These percentages provide insight into the extent to which policies and protocols have been adopted. Yet, even within those agencies that have established relevant policies, protocols, and reports to the public (e.g. an Annual Report) the question remains whether they have supported the rhetoric with adequate resources. We asked our interviewees whether they felt that their police agency was supportive of community policing. Answers were coded into three categories. Not supportive indicates that the police agency does not have any community policing policy, does not provide resources for officers to implement community policing initiatives, and management does not reward any of these types of initiatives. Supportive - policy means that the agency has drafted policies, protocols, and reports to the public that indicate a commitment to community policing (for details, see Figure IV.20 above). Finally, the category supportive with resources indicates the allocation of significant resources to community policing. Agencies in this category have not only written down their initiatives but have also provided adequate resources and support for the implementation and continuation of community policing within all ranks. In a substantial number of police services, officers whom we interviewed disagreed with one another as to the level of support for community policing. These police services were coded multiple answers. Figure IV.21 shows the distribution of police services.

Figure IV.21: Level of commitment by police agencies to community policing

Figure IV.21 Level of commitment by police agencies to community policing - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

The data suggest that less than one-quarter of the police agencies in our sample have implemented the strategic component of community policing. The fact that more than one-third of the agencies fell under the category of multiple answers suggests two things to us. First, the philosophical dimension has not been clearly articulated within all ranks to ensure that officers have a clear idea of the mandates and goals with respect to the implementation of community policing. Second, the assignment of dedicated community service officers (CSO's) in some police services increases the likelihood of conflicting views among members of the police agency, since other officers (e.g. patrol) do not see themselves as engaged in community policing per se.

The regional distribution of police agencies' support for community policing is shown in Figure IV.22. [84] The strongest form of commitment to community policing - allocation of significant resources to it - is spread fairly evenly across the regions of Canada, except for the low levels in the Atlantic region and the Territories. Allocation of resources to community policing is more common among metropolitan (42%) and suburban/exurban agencies (40%), but lower, as expected, in rural and small town police agencies (26%).

Figure IV.22 Regional distribution of the level of commitment by police agencies to community policing

Figure IV.22 Regional distribution of the level of commitment by police agencies to community policing - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

Looking at the views of individual officers, rather than treating the police service as a unit, we find that 40% of the respondents said their organization had allocated significant resources to community policing, another 40% said it was supportive in policy only, and 20% said it was not supportive. Many of the officers who said that their organization was supportive in policy only made it very clear that they considered this form of commitment to be "lip service" only, which was not backed up with tangible action. Thus, only 40% of the officers whom we interviewed felt that their organization had made a serious commitment to community policing, in the form of the allocation of resources. This rather undermines the claim at the beginning of this section that Canada has witnessed a major shift from traditional to community policing.

Views of officers concerning their organization's commitment to community policing differ by the functional assignment of the respondent. Figure IV.23 shows that School Liaison Officers and youth squad officers are the most likely to say that their organization is not supportive of community policing, but SLO's are also the most likely to say that their agency is supportive with resources. Evidently, they have more clearly defined views than other officers, presumably because it is the SLO's who are most directly involved in community policing. Youth squad officers are also less likely than others to view their organization as supportive with resources; however, it is the patrol officers who take the most jaundiced view of their organization's commitment to community policing: only 13% said there was support including resources.

Figure IV.23 Views on agency's support for community policing, by location of service

Figure IV.23 Views on agency's support for community policing, by location of service - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

Our findings do suggest the implementation of the strategic component of community policing affects police decision-making with young offenders. If an agency has relevant policy and resources dedicated to community policing its members are more likely "usually" or "always" to use informal action. No differences are apparent in the use of informal warnings; however, agencies which are supportive with resources are more likely to use formal warnings (44%) than those that are supportive only with policy (30%) or agencies that are not supportive of community policing (0%). Police agencies which have allocated resources to community policing are also less likely to question a youth at home or the police station as a form of informal action (23% vs. 50% of other agencies). Further, officers in these agencies are almost twice as likely to make referrals to external agencies if the police force is supportive with the allocation of resources (80% versus 44% of other agencies).

The level of commitment to community policing is positively related to the use of alternative measures as a method to deal with youth-related incidents. One-quarter (25%) of agencies that are not supportive of community policing use pre-charge diversion, compared to almost one-half (43%) that have incorporated community policing policy, and three-quarters (75%) of those agencies with dedicated resources. There is a similar relationship with the likelihood that a police agency uses community based pre-charge restorative justice programs. None of the agencies that were not supportive of community policing used community based restorative justice diversion programs, compared to 22% of those with supportive policy and over one-half (56%) with dedicated resources. No differences were evident in the use of post-charge alternative measures.

Table IV.3 shows the proportions of apprehended youth who were charged during 1998-2000, according to the UCR Survey, broken down by the degree of support of the police service for community policing. The table is further broken down by region, in order to control for overall regional variations in charging practices. In five of the six regions (the Prairie provinces being the exception), the propensity to charge decreases as the level of support for community policing increases.

Table IV.3 Proportion of apprehended young persons charged, 1998-2000, by the level of support for community policing and region
  Not supportive
(% charged)
Supportive - policy
(% charged)
Supportive with resources
(% charged)
Territories n/a 61% 43%
British Columbia 56% 49% 35%
Prairies n/a 71% 75%
Ontario 73% 75% 66%
Quebec n/a 47% 45%
Atlantic 78% 60% 60%

There is no relationship between the level of commitment to community policing and the use of appearance notices or summonses. However, there is a relationship with the reasons which respondents gave us for the use of the promise to appear. Agencies with dedicated community policing resources are more likely to use a promise to appear "to release a young person without detention" (75%) than those agencies that have only policy or are not supportive (53%). They are also more likely to use a PTA "as a higher consequence than releasing with an appearance notice" (18% vs. 0%), or "in conjunction with an OIC undertaking" (64% vs. 25%). There is no relationship between the degree to which an agency has implemented the strategic dimension of community policing, and the types of conditions which its members commonly attach to an OIC undertaking.

With one exception, we found no differences in reasons given to detain a youth for a judicial interim release hearing. Agencies with dedicated community policing resources are only half as likely to indicate that they detain young offenders "for multiple breaches" (19% vs. 41%).

7.3 The tactical dimension: crime prevention programs and problem-oriented policing (POP)

The tactical dimension in the implementation of community policing is the establishment "on the ground" of crime prevention programs and problem-oriented policing. We asked respondents about the degree of involvement of their agency in crime prevention, and coded the answers into three categories. Every police service and detachment in our sample has one or more crime prevention programs that are delivered on a relatively consistent basis. Officers in 28% of the agencies said that their agency delivers a lot of crime prevention programs; 34% of agencies deliver some programs, and 38% of agencies have a little involvement in delivering crime prevention programs.

Figure IV.24 shows the regional distribution of involvement. This mirrors the regional distribution of levels of youth crime (Figure III.9), with high levels in the Prairies and Territories and lower levels elsewhere.

Figure IV.24 Regional distribution of the level of involvement of police services in crime prevention programs

Figure IV.24 Regional distribution of the level of involvement of police services in crime prevention programs - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

Metropolitan (33%) and suburban/exurban (29%) police agencies are more likely than agencies in rural areas and small towns (20%) to be involved in "a lot" of crime prevention programs; and agencies in rural areas and small towns are more likely (48%) to have only "a little" involvement in crime prevention than metropolitan (30%) and suburban/exurban agencies (29%). These patterns suggest a relationship between the perceived level of youth crime in the community and the level of involvement of the police service in crime prevention programs. At the high end of the spectrum, however, the relationship is actually very weak: 32% of police services in communities with "a lot" of youth crime are involved in "a lot" of crime prevention programs, versus 26% of services in communities with "a normal amount" of youth crime and 25% of services in communities with "not very much" youth crime. A much stronger relationship is evident at the other end of the continuum of involvement: 67% of police agencies in communities with "not very much" youth crime have only "a little" involvement in crime prevention programs, versus 38% of agencies in communities with "a normal amount" of youth crime, and 18% of agencies in communities with "a lot" of youth crime.

Only 11% of the agencies in the sample provided us with documentation concerning their crime prevention programs - apparently because only the larger agencies have the financial and personnel resources to produce this kind of documentation. A small percentage of agencies provided documentation concerning their specialized programs such as SHOCAP/SHOP (9%), G.R.I.T. (Gang Resistance Intervention Team) (2%), and TAPP-C (5%). 16% of our sample provided documentation outlining community mobilization projects and ongoing problem-oriented initiatives involving community partners. It was evident from the interviews that these figures are not indicative of the extent that the police agencies in our sample are engaged in innovative youth programs, and do not capture the depth of involvement in their communities of many of the agencies in our sample.

There is considerable variation in the type of crime prevention programs in which police services participate. The type of programs delivered may change periodically over the years to better reflect the perceived needs of the community. For example, our interviewees suggested that the prevalence of programs geared towards the prevention of bullying has increased over the past three to four years. Similarly, in many organizations officers are becoming much more involved in volunteer activities that bring them in contact with youth (e.g. baseball games, community events). Figure IV.25 shows the main categories of crime prevention programs which are currently being delivered by agencies in our sample, either in schools or at other venues.

Figure IV.25: Types of crime prevention programs

Figure IV.25 Types of crime prevention programs - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

Figure IV.26 shows the regional distribution of police services involved in crime prevention programs related to youth gangs. Involvement is higher in the Prairies and Ontario, and very low in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Except for Quebec, this distribution mirrors the regional distribution of identified youth gang problems: higher levels in the Prairies, Ontario, and Quebec (Figure III.14). Indeed, police agencies in communities with identified youth gang problems are much more likely (52%) to be involved in gang-related programs than other police agencies (10%). Involvement in youth gang-related crime prevention programming is also strongly related to the perceived level of youth crime in the community: 50% of police services in communities with "a lot" of youth crime are involved in anti-gang programs, compared with 14% in communities with "a normal amount" of youth crime, and only 8% in communities with "not very much" youth crime. These relationships probably explain why police services in metropolitan areas are much more likely (40%) to be involved in gang-related programs than agencies in suburban/exurban communities (21%) or police services in rural areas and small towns (7%). Police services in communities with a significant population of aboriginals living off-reserve are also much more likely (31%) to be involved in gang-related programs than other police services (14%). However, there is no relationship between policing a First Nations reserve and being involved in gang-related programs: 19% of police agencies which include a reserve in their jurisdiction are involved in such programs, compared with 20% of other police agencies.

Figure IV.26 Regional distribution of involvement by police agencies in youth gang related crime prevention programs

Figure IV.26 Regional distribution of involvement by police agencies in youth gang related crime prevention programs - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

A somewhat similar pattern can be seen for police involvement in anti-violence programs. The regional distribution of police services involved in such programs is shown in Figure IV.27. It mirrors, approximately, the regional distribution of police services reporting a significant problem of youth violence in their communities, with higher levels in the Prairies and Ontario, and low levels in the Atlantic provinces (Figure III.13). However, police services in the Territories reported relatively low levels of serious youth violent crime (Figure III.13), but are heavily involved in violence-related crime prevention programs. Police involvement in programs related to youth violence is much more prevalent in communities where police have identified a problem of serious violent youth crime: 79% of police services in such communities are involved in anti-violence programs, compared with 38% of police services in other communities. Similarly, 73% of police services in communities with "a lot" of youth crime are involved in anti-violence programs, compared with 52% in communities with "a normal amount" of youth crime, and 23% in communities with "not very much" youth crime. These relationships probably explain why metropolitan police services are much more likely (70%) to be involved in anti-violence programs than suburban/exurban (42%) or rural and small town police services (36%). There is no relationship between policing aboriginal populations, either on- or off-reserve, and involvement in anti-violence programs, which is a little surprising in view of the problem of violent crime which has been identified in aboriginal communities (Griffiths & Verdun-Jones, 1994: 638-639; cf. Chapter III, Section 4.2.4 above).

Figure IV.27 Regional distribution of involvement by police agencies in youth violence related crime prevention programs

Figure IV.27 Regional distribution of involvement by police agencies in youth violence related crime prevention programs - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

Does the level of involvement in crime prevention programs have an effect on police decision-making with young offenders? The data suggest that this involvement is related to the use of informal action, but that there are no systematic relationships between the level of involvement in crime prevention and the use of pre- and post-charge alternative measures or the methods used to compel attendance at court.

As the level of involvement by a police agency in crime prevention programs increases, the likelihood that officers "usually" or "always" consider using informal action also rises. 93% of the agencies with "a lot" of crime prevention programs "usually" or "always" consider informal action with youth-related incidents compared to 80% of those with "some" involvement and 66% of those with "a little" involvement. The same pattern occurs for the use of informal warnings: 100% of the agencies with "a lot" of involvement in crime prevention programs use informal warnings compared to 94% of those with "some" involvement and 89% of those agencies with "a little" involvement. Officers are almost twice as likely (50%) to use formal warnings in agencies with "a lot" of involvement in crime prevention as officers in those with "some" or "a little" involvement (26%). Similarly, if there is "a lot" of (100%) or "some" (97%) involvement, officers are more likely to use parental involvement as a form of informal action than officers in agencies with only "a little" involvement in crime prevention programs (80%). Further, the likelihood that officers will make referrals to external agencies is also higher in agencies with "a lot" of involvement in crime prevention (75%) than in those with "some" (61%) or "a little" involvement (52%). Not surprisingly, officers are more likely to say that they "almost always" use informal action with minor (22% vs. 10%) and provincial offences (24% vs. 12%) in agencies with "a lot" of involvement in crime prevention programs than in agencies with less involvement.

The more involved a police agency is in delivering crime prevention programs, the less likely its members are to "almost always" charge for minor or for serious offences. Agencies which are involved in "a lot" of or "some" programs are less likely to charge for minor offences (2%) than those with only "a little" involvement in crime prevention programs (14%). Similarly, agencies with "a lot" of or "some" crime prevention programs are less likely to "almost always" charge in serious offences (39%, compared with 61% of agencies with only "a little" involvement).

Table IV.4 shows percentages of apprehended youth who were charged in 1998-2000, according to the UCR Survey, broken down by the level of involvement of police services in crime prevention initiatives. The percentages are also broken down by the level of crime in the community, to control for the confounding effect of that variable. Since levels of charging vary substantially by province, it is also desirable to control for the individual province, but that was impossible, due to the small numbers of police services in the resulting cross-classification. The solution which we adopted was to calculate, for each police service, the percentage of apprehended youth who were charged, relative to the provincial average. For example, in British Columbia, the overall percentage of apprehended youth who were charged during 1998-2000 (in our sample) is 56% (Table II.1). Thus, if a police service in British Columbia charged 70% of apprehended youth, it would receive a score of +14%; if it charged 60% of apprehended youth, it would be scored as -10%.

Table IV.4 Proportion of apprehended young persons charged, 1998-2000, relative to the overall provincial level of charging, by the level of involvement of police in crime prevention initiatives, and by the perceived level of youth crime in the community
  Level of involvement in crime prevention
  "A little" "Some" "A lot"
Perceived level of youth crime in the community % charged % charged % charged
"Not very much" -1% n/a +5%
"A normal amount" ±0% -4% -5%
"A lot" +4% +2% -6%

Thus, in Table IV.4, in communities with "not very much" perceived youth crime, police services with only a little involvement in crime prevention initiatives have a rate of charging apprehended youth which is slightly (1%) below the provincial average, and those which are involved in "a lot" of initiatives have an average level of charging which is 5% above the provincial average. [85] This suggests that, in this type of community, involvement in crime prevention initiatives is associated with an increase in the propensity to charge, contrary to expectations. In communities with "a normal amount" of youth crime, police services with "a lot" of involvement have an average level of charging which is 5% below that of services with "a little" involvement; and in communities with "a lot" of youth crime, agencies with "a lot" of involvement have, on average, a level of charging which is 10% lower than those with "a little" involvement. Thus, the relationship between the level of involvement in crime prevention initiatives and the level of charging of apprehended youth becomes greater as the perceived amount of youth crime in the community increases.

We also asked respondents about the use of problem-oriented policing (POP) in their police service or detachment. When discussing problem-oriented policing, we were told by some officers that it is an outdated concept. Some of the alternatives they suggested are "solution-oriented policing" or "intelligence-led policing". One officer suggested that "policing has changed from enforcement, to POP, now to community-based policing". We were able to obtain information about the use of POP from 85 of the 92 police services and detachments in the sample. The answers were coded into four categories. Front-line only refers to those agencies where front-line officers are the only individuals who actively employ the POP model in the everyday execution of their duties. Community policing officer only refers to those agencies in which, when respondents were asked about POP projects, they either referred us to the CSO or indicated that only the CSO is actively involved in using the POP model on a day-to-day basis. Front-line and Community policing officer only refers to agencies where all front-line and the community policing officer(s) are utilizing the POP model regularly. Finally, all ranks refers to agencies where front-line personnel, community policing officers, GIS, and management are all involved in POP to some degree. The sample is fairly evenly divided among the four categories (Figure IV.28).

Figure IV.28: Type of involvement in problem-oriented policing

Figure IV.28 Type of involvement in problem-oriented policing - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

Figure IV.29 Regional distribution of the extent of adoption of the POP model

Figure IV.29 Regional distribution of the extent of adoption of the POP model - If the following image is not accessible to you, please contact Youth Justice Policy at Youth-Jeunes@justice.gc.ca for an alternate format.

Description

Figure IV.29 shows the regional distribution of the extent of use of the POP model by police services. In order to simplify the presentation, we have combined the categories "Front-line and Community policing officer" and "all ranks" to identify police services in which the use of the POP model is fairly widespread throughout the organization. Evidently, adoption of the POP model is well advanced in the Prairies, and not in the Territories or Atlantic provinces. Using the same combined grouping of police services, in which the POP model is used by all ranks or at least by front-line and CSO officers, we find that suburban/exurban police services are the most likely (65%) to have reached this level of adoption of POP, compared with metropolitan (54%) and rural and small town agencies (32%).

Police officers are more likely to "usually" or "always" consider informal action in agencies where the front-line officers actively incorporate POP into their everyday enforcement activities. In 92% of agencies where the use of POP is restricted to front-line officers, the use of informal action is "usually" or "always" considered, compared with 78% of those where both CSO's and front-line officers use POP, 77% of those in which all ranks use POP, and 74% of agencies where its use is restricted to the CSO's. Similarly, if front-line officers are the only agents active in applying the POP model, they are also more likely to "almost always" consider informal action with minor (32% vs. 11% of agencies with the other 3 models) and provincial offences (29% vs. 13% of other agencies). They are also more likely to "almost always" consider informal action for all offence types (45%) than those agencies where only a CSO uses POP (40%), front-line and CSO's (31%), or all ranks (26%). This suggests that POP has more impact when it is used by front-line officers at the street level than in connection with specifically targeted community projects.

The relationship between the extent of an agency's use of POP and its use of informal action (above) is reversed when we examine differences in the use of pre-charge alternative measures. Agencies whose front-line officers are the only officers applying the POP model are less likely to use pre-charge diversion (36%) than agencies in which only CSO's use POP (55%), front-line and CSO's use POP (50%), or agencies where all ranks are involved in using POP (59%). Once again, this suggests the relevance to diversion and referral decisions of the relationship between the police service and the community, as indicated by the involvement of CSO's and other ranks, in contrast to the predominant role of front-line offices in decisions concerning informal action.

Table IV.5 shows the relationship between the police service's adoption of POP and the proportion of apprehended youth which were charged during 1998-2000, according to the UCR Survey. As in Table IV.4, percentages are relative to the average provincial percentage charged. Police services in which POP is used by all ranks have a level of charging of apprehended youth which is, on average, 4% below their provincial averages; however, those in which POP is used by front-line officers only, or by front-line officers and CSO's have levels of charging which are higher than their provincial averages. Applying controls for the level of youth crime in the community, etc., did not change the relationship. We speculate that this unexpected result is due to the inability to differentiate informal action from pre-charge diversion using UCR data. We noted above that agencies whose front-line officers are the only officers applying the POP model are less likely to use pre-charge diversion; presumably this more than offsets the hypothesized increase in the use of informal action by these agencies.

Table IV.5 Proportion of apprehended young persons charged, 1998-2000, relative to the overall provincial level of charging, by the extent of adoption of the POP model
Extent of adoption of POP % charged
Front-line only +4%
CSO's only -9%
Front-line and CSO's +3%
All ranks -4%

7.4 The organizational dimension: organizational redesign

Finally, the organizational dimension involves a restructuring of the organization to implement community policing. This in turn requires a philosophical reorientation which is easier to state than to describe. Many organizations have flattened their rank hierarchy, implemented new promotion evaluation criteria, and dedicated officers to focus solely on community policing issues. In our discussions with police officers we came to realize that the organizational dimension of community policing is much more complex than the others, and perhaps the most problematic to implement. Organizational redesign requires that management consult with all ranks in order to implement community policing in a manner which best suits the particular community. In several cases, police agencies had implemented most of the components of the philosophical, tactical, and strategic dimensions but had not (yet) revamped the organization or its underlying philosophy to deliver community policing effectively. Organizational redesign presupposes a genuine commitment to community policing on the part of the senior management team, which is then translated into a wide range of organizational innovations. We judged that to measure the extent to which this had happened in our sample of police services was beyond the capabilities of our chosen methodology.


  • [80] CAPRA, as a problem solving method, is part of every RCMP officer's initial training program (Hornick et al., 1996)
  • [81] This may be facilitated in agencies which have redefined police roles and job descriptions.
  • [82] Common indicators of productivity for police officers are arrest and clearance rates (Ericson, 1982).
  • [83] These stark differences are probably the result of Ontario's Policing Standards Act.
  • [84] The substantial number of police services in which officers disagreed about the level of support - coded "multiple answers" in Figure IV.21 - are omitted from the percentages in Figure IV.22.
  • [85] There were too few agencies in the "some involvement" category to calculate a reliable percentage.

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